Manning Happy to be Healthy Heading into Training Camp
TERRE HAUTE – One-by-one, Colts players rolled into training camp on Sunday. And while there are a few new faces around camp this year, the one who is most familiar might also be the most excited to get things going.
After missing camp last season while rehabilitating his left knee, a healthy Peyton Manning arrived in Terre Haute on Sunday, eager to get to work and begin his 12th NFL season.
"It feels a lot better to be able to drive up here as opposed to getting driven up here last year laying down in the back seat and being confined to my dorm," Manning said with a smile.
The Colts quarterback said he was excited on his drive down to the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, site of the team's training camp for the 11th consecutive year. Manning said he missed participating in two-a-days last season and felt guilty while his teammates sweated it out in the heat.
"I've always believed that training camp is when you form the foundation of your team and truly iron out the little details that you're going to need to be on the same page as you go into the season. I definitely think it had an effect on the way I started the season last year, so I'm looking forward to going through the entire camp hopefully healthy this year, and hopefully we can get off to a faster start."
Manning is hoping a productive, and restful, offseason helps the Colts get off to that fast start.
"I feel good. I feel recharged. I talked to a number of guys on the way up here and everybody is ready to go," he said. "That's what you want going into the season."
Colts center Jeff Saturday said even Manning's presence around camp helps the team.
"People understand that he's the guy we're going with," Saturday said. "Whenever you're starting a training camp or a new season you want everybody there. This is the first time as a team that you can put pads on and show what you have. You want all the guys and all the pieces of the machine working at one time."
Manning said it will feel a little different not having some of the pieces he's used to being in camp, most notably former Colts coach Tony Dungy and former Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison. On his trip to Terre Haute, Manning said he sent the two text messages letting them know how much the team will miss them.
But the Colts quarterback said losing friends and teammates is part of the game. And despite growing accustomed to seeing No. 88 lined up right, Manning said he is excited to get to work with the targets he does have at his disposal.
"At this point, it looks like (Anthony) Gonzalez will be on the right, and I think he'll have a great year," Manning said. "I think my head will be turning the other way a little bit more to the left toward No. 87 (Reggie Wayne). Dallas (Clark) will have a big year for us, and I'm looking forward to seeing the healthy competition at that third spot, whether it be Pierre Garcon or Austin Collie, there are some big shoes to fill playing in the slot."
There is no clear-cut favorite to start in the slot, which Manning thinks could benefit the team.
"Competition is good, and I think it will make everybody better at the position," he said.
After tomorrow, every NFL team will have reported to camp. And while every team has the same goals, Manning thinks the Colts have an edge.
"All 32 teams are feeling good about themselves, but our team is charged up, and it's a group that likes to work. I think we're looking forward to doing that this training camp."